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Bon Appétit Appalachia Map Released

From Athens News Courier

The peacefulness of the small town of Mooresville was briefly interrupted Thursday by a throng of state and local officials celebrating a new regional tourism campaign.

1818 Farms in Mooresville was the kickoff site for “Bon Appétit Appalachia,” an effort by the federal Appalachian Regional Commission to showcase unique food and beverage operations in the 13 states that encompass the ARC’s service area. Of the 900 featured locations, 130 Alabama destinations are featured in a map guide inserted in the summer issue of “Edible” magazine.

Natasha McCrary, who operates the 3-acre 1818 Farms with her husband Laurence, said she appreciated the efforts of the ARC and Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association to bring attention to agricultural producers and restaurants who buy local.

She added that 1818 Farms is working to preserve history by working as a sustainable farm and through its production of handmade products.

“When I look at the map, I see hardworking people who are trying to make a difference …,” she said. “’Bon Appétit’ shows many innovators who are working together to strengthen their communities.”

To emphasize the point of the campaign, those in attendance enjoyed a farm-to-fork lunch prepared by Chief Jakob Reed, executive chef and owner of Albany Bistro in Decatur.

The shrimp were from Alabama’s Gulf Coast, while a cheese sampler was courtesy of Belle Chevre in Elkmont. 1818 Farms and Wright Dairy provided ingredients for the heirloom salad, while the Fatback Pig Project, Belle Chevre and 1818 Farms provided ingredients for the main course — pastured chicken breast quarter with roasted heirloom vegetables and a cheese-grit cake with andouille.

“Our country is craving getting back to its roots and local and this is filling a need,” said Mooresville Mayor Margaret-Anne Crumlish. “We are so proud of 1818 Farms and all they’re doing out here. We want to thank them for putting us on the map.”

The farm was also praised by Jim Byard Jr., director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. He said he was glad to be in Mooresville Thursday as opposed to Montgomery.

“I follow (1818 Farms) on Instagram and Twitter, so I feel like I’ve been here,” he said. “I enjoy getting up every morning and seeing what the goats are doing.”

Earl Gohl, who has served as federal co-chair on the ARC for the past six and a half years, said the “Bon Appétit Appalachia” efforts is an example of what can be accomplished when numerous entities work together. He added the program is also indicative of the renewed interest in agriculture in recent years, particularly farm-to-fork operations like 1818 Farms.

He explained locally grown food was a $12 billion industry in 2014, according to national statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He said that would grow to $20 billion by 2019.

“What we continue to learn about the food economy is that it’s a growing economy,” he said. “We’ve learned there are people who are the next generation of folks who are inquisitive and who enjoy driving this. It’s not just about tourism; it’s about the local food economy and how it adds to the quality of life. It’s an important economic development tool because it’s what folks want to have in their community.”

About the map

Destinations highlighted on the map guide include local farms, farmers markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, chefs featuring local ingredients, vineyards and award-winning wineries, craft breweries and distilleries, heritage food festivals and other distinctive culinary events. Belle Chevre, Albany Bistro, Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, Singin’ River Brewery in Florence and LouAllen Farms in Moulton are also featured.

The map guide is also prominently featured on www.visitappalachia.com and includes detailed information and searchable maps to locate food businesses, attractions and events throughout the 13-state region. The campaign is a marketing effort by the ARC designed to boost tourism and to stimulate economic development in the 13 states comprising the Appalachian region.

About the ARC

The ARC is a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Forty-two percent of the Region’s population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.

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